Friday, April 16, 2004

Nick & Jessica's variety hour: 60 minutes of pain

—Originally published 4.16.04

Thank goodness for VCRs -- especially the fast-forward button.

I knew last Sunday's "The Nick & Jessica Variety Hour" was probably going to be a cringe-fest, but I wanted to give it a fair shot. Hence the tape, so I could skip the more excruciating parts I was sure were coming.

I ended up watching as much as I could stand the next night with a buddy of mine (much to his chagrin). What follows is essentially my running mental commentary while enduring this ... experience.


-- All right, here we go: "The Nick & Jessica Variety Hour," starring Nick Lachey and Jessica Simpson's cleavage.

-- Nick has about as much improv skill as I do. He is seriously riding his wife's coattails.

-- Thirty seconds in, and I want desperately to turn this off. Maybe it's because I grew up in the '80s and '90s instead of the '60s and '70s, but I just don't get this whole "variety show" premise.

-- First punch of the fast-forward button to get through this interminable P.I. sketch.

-- WHOA! Push Play! It's Mr. T!

-- Apparently, these days Mr. T will do anything for money. I pity this poor fool.

-- Now we have Jessica and Jewel on-stage together. Is the host mocking her guest? Surely this can't be Ms. Simpson's idea of "serious" delivery?

-- There are way too many audience members voicing their approval. Who are these people?

-- There's K.I.T.T., another of my childhood heroes, cool.

-- Wait, that is not K.I.T.T.'s real voice! This is so pathetic.

-- As Nick and Jessica sing along with K.I.T.T., my buddy repeatedly beats his head with a pillow. "It's less painful," he tells me.

-- Ugh. "The Mickey Mouse Club" bit is even worse. I will never have the last three minutes of my life back.

-- OK, hitting Nick in the head with a bottle over and over is pretty funny.

-- AAAAGGGHHHHHH! Somebody put his shirt back on!!!!

-- Mr. T is back for "10 seconds of awkwardness." I think the total's more like 1,800 at this point.

-- Jessica Simpson is the LAST person who should be taking shots at President Bush for being dumb.

-- Jessica as Dolly Parton: Cleavage-to-the-max outfit No. ... Never mind, I've lost count.

-- It occurs to me Jessica may actually think Kenny Rogers is Nick in disguise. This is now officially the "Revive My Career Variety Show."

-- It takes a special talent, I guess, to be outclassed, outwitted and upstaged by Muppets.

-- Nick in a bunny suit: He, too, will apparently do anything for money. (And what is this "Works Hard for the Money" bit, anyway?)

-- My buddy, a Cincinnati Reds fan, is contemplating a shift in allegiance after Johnny Bench makes an appearance.

-- Jessica's singing "Take My Breath Away," and we have the first appearance of my "corny goosebumps" (you know, when something happens that's so incredibly stupid/cheesy/awful that it causes the hair on the back of your neck to stand on end). Reaching for the fast-forward button ...

-- "I Got You Babe" duet brings the corny goosebumps right back as the show, mercifully, clunks to a close. I'll take the "Beavis & Butt-head" version any day.

-- I never saw "The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour," but I can't believe it was as bad as this. Bono's probably rolling in his grave.


I know these tidbits are resoundingly negative, but they came right off the pad I had next to me while watching this show. I tried to find something good, but it just wasn't there.

And it's not like I don't know who these people are -- I've seen most of the couple's "Newlyweds" episodes and find them at least amusing, if not genuinely funny.

But let's be honest -- Nick and Jessica are dumb (or at least pretend to be), and it's easy for dumb people to be humorous on TV just by being their own dumb selves. Take Spike TV's "Most Extreme Elimination Challenge," for example (new season starts April 22, woohoo!).

In scripted sketches, however, which require real acting chops to pull off, Nick and Jessica are unwatchable. And yet 11.5 million people tuned in Sunday night, anyway.

Much more disturbing, though, are the 15 million people who last week watched Fox's disgusting new reality show "The Swan," which provides "ugly ducklings" with plastic surgery and then has them compete in a beauty contest. I refused to watch this inhumane garbage just from seeing the commercials. I wish more people had done the same.

Television -- and, evidently, its audience -- are in really, really bad shape.

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